The 2017 year in golf provided some fantastic story lines, offered up a smattering of new stars and saw some surprising major winners.

One of the sport’s most famous and storied clubs even opened its doors to female members for the first time.

As 2017 draws to a close, here’s a look back at some of the moments that defined the past 12 months in golf.

Tiger out of the cage?

Has one of final moments of the 2017 season given fans a hint at what may be in store for 2018?

Tiger Woods made his latest comeback at the Hero World Challenge in early December and finished with a respectable eight-under-par to tie for ninth position.

Woods played the same tournament last year but then pulled out of a series of events at the start of 2017 due to injury.

A back operation in April kept him sidelined until his return earlier this month while he pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving in October.
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Yet Tiger’s game looked good on his return and, most importantly, he appeared to be playing pain free.

It’s been a long time since Woods has been in contention for a major title but could the 41-year-old be back in the big time in 2018?

Sergio’s emotional green jacket

A key rival over the course of Woods’ career finally picked up his first major win in 2017.

Sergio Garcia has regularly found himself near the top of the leaderboard in the big events over the years.

Until this year he had recorded four runner-up spots, 12 top-five finishes and 22 top 10s in the major tournaments — but never had he secured one of golf’s big prizes.

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It was little surprise then that Garcia was overcome with emotion as he sunk the winning putt at Augusta in April.
Looking back on his unlikely win later in 2017, Garcia told CNN: “I believe that everything that happened throughout my career, good and bad, made the win at the Masters even better.

“Now we can really appreciate how hard it is and how sweet it is to have it.”

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{if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(false);}}},onCVPVisibilityChange: function (containerId, cvpId, visible) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, visible);}};if (typeof configObj.context !== ‘string’ || configObj.context.length 0) {configObj.adsection = window.ssid;}CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibrary(configObj, callbackObj, isLivePlayer);});/* videodemanddust is a default feature of the injector */CNN.INJECTOR.scriptComplete(‘videodemanddust’);

Spieth nightmare becomes dream

When Jordan Spieth lost control of his tee shot on the 13th hole at Royal Birkdale during the final round of the 2017 British Open, it looked for all the world that history was about to repeat itself.

Spieth had suffered a meltdown for the ages at the 2016 Masters, carding a quadruple bogey on the par three 12th to surrender a once comfortable lead he wouldn’t get back.

What’s worse, the then 22-year-old was the reigning Masters champion and so had to present eventual winner Danny Willett with the green jacket.

Spieth had gradually rebuilt his confidence in the 15 months that followed his Augusta blow out.

But having led by three shots going into the final round at Birkdale, his wayward drive on the 13th signaled trouble once more.

Although he salvaged a bogey, Spieth had given up the lead with only five holes remaining.

Fortunately for him, there was to be no repeat of his Masters nightmare.

The young American rallied to put together a remarkable final few holes, carding three birdies and one eagle in the process, to snaffle the claret jug for the first time.

Thompson’s trial by TV

Lexi Thompson was honing in on victory at the ANA Inspiration event before the intervention of an eagle eyed TV viewer saw her hit with a four stroke penalty.

Thompson had slightly misplaced a marked ball on the 17th green during her third round.

The indiscretion wasn’t picked up at the time but a fan watching on TV emailed in the evidence.

Thompson was sitting pretty atop the leaderboard and was more than halfway through her final round when she was told of the penalty that meant she dropped two shots behind Norway’s Suzann Pettersen.

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is currently playing* @param containerId The parent container Id of the video element*/function findNextVideo(currentVideoId) {var i,vidObj;if (currentVideoId && jQuery.isArray(currentVideoCollection) && currentVideoCollection.length > 0) {for (i = 0; i 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.showEndSlateForContainer();}}}callbackObj = {onPlayerReady: function (containerId) {CNN.VideoPlayer.reportLoadTime(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.handleInitialExpandableVideoState(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, CNN.pageVis.isDocumentVisible());if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {var containerClassId = ‘#’ + containerId;if (jQuery(containerClassId).parents(‘.js-pg-rail-tall__head’).length) {videoPinner = new CNN.VideoPinner(containerClassId);videoPinner.init();} else {CNN.VideoPlayer.hideThumbnail(containerId);}}},/** Listen to the metadata event which fires right after the ad ends and the actual video playback 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“Is this a joke?! Oh my God,” she said upon being informed of the news. “Four-stroke penalty, that’s just ridiculous.”

Although Thompson rallied to tie for the lead and force a playoff, the 22-year-old would miss out on a second major to South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu.

The controversy sparked a debate on how golf’s often archaic rules are applied, with recent changes making sure such an incident can’t occur in future.

Too little, too late for Thompson, though.

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Justin Thomas arrives

The past 12 months have been the making of Justin Thomas.

The 24-year-old won his maiden major title at the US PGA Championship and followed that success by nabbing the FedEx Cup and its accompanying $10 million prize check.

Thomas has been firmly in teenage friend Jordan Spieth’s shadow since the pair turned pro.

But with five tournament victories over the course of 2017 to Spieth’s three, Thomas will be hoping that’s not the case for much longer.

The native of Louisville, Kentucky, is now ranked No. 3 in the world, behind Dustin Johnson in top spot and Spieth.

Thomas’ rise also ensures another exciting American talent is in firm contention to make the 2018 Ryder Cup team.

Justin Thomas of the United States poses after winning the 2017 FedExCup.

A Chinese No.1

Shanshan Feng is beginning to make firsts a bit of a habit.

The 28-year-old became the first Chinese player to win a major title when she claimed the 2012 LPGA Championship.

This year, Feng became the first Chinese player, male or female, to reach No. 1 in the world rankings.

“I’m not an emotional person but to see the Chinese flag on top of the #rolexrankings makes feel all my 18 years’ efforts (in) this sport (have) paid off,” the delighted Feng wrote in an Instagram post after the rankings were confirmed.

Staying there won’t be easy, however.

A sustained challenge is likely from Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu and others in 2018.

Muirfield joins 21st century

Muirfield Golf Club in Edinburgh, Scotland, finally voted to admit female members for the first time in its 273-year history.
The course had been taken off the rota of Open Championship host courses after members voted against female members in 2016.

Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, described that decision as “indefensible.”

But a fresh ballot in March earlier this year saw 80.2% of members vote for women to be allowed to join the club.

The R&A, which organizes the Open Championship, swiftly reinstated Muirfield on the Open rota.

Previously, women had been able to play on the links course and visit the clubhouse as guests and visitors but not apply to join as members.

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Branden Grace’s achievements at the 2017 Open Championship were overshadowed somewhat by Jordan Spieth’s dramatic finish.

Thirty-one players had previously shot 63 in the major competitions, including 10 in the Open. But 62 had always been out of reach until Grace’s third round at Royal Birkdale.

Grace said he only realized the significance of what he’d done when his caddy Zack Rassego told him upon finishing his round on the 18th green.

“Zack came up and said, “You’re in the history books.” And I was like, “What are you talking about?

“To do it at the Open Championship is pretty special,” Grace said at the time.


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